How to Install a Skylight Tube

Bring loads of natural light into an interior space with a skylight tube. The idea of cutting a hole in a roof may be intimidating, but this project can be completed in a few hours with midlevel DIY skills.

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Before starting this project:

Use caution when working in attic spaces, and only step on plywood or joists. Drywall will collapse under a person's weight, resulting in a fall and possible serious injury.

Double-check measurements before making cuts in the roof.

This project is best completed with the help of a second person.

Materials Needed:

  • skylight tube kit
  • hammer and 2" nails
  • extension tube (if space between ceiling and roof is more than 48")
  • jigsaw
  • pencil
  • plumb line
  • ladder
  • drill equipped with drill and driver bits
  • tin snips
  • tape measure
  • duct tape/foil tape
  • safety glasses
  • work gloves
  • chalk gun
  • roofing cement
  • attic access
  • exterior silicone

Determine Placement of Skylight Tube

From the attic, find a place to install skylight tube between ceiling joists. (It may be necessary to cut out a section of plywood flooring to gain access to drywall ceiling.) Push a nail or screw in center of desired location. View it from inside the room to make sure placement is good. When proper place is determined, hang a plumb line from room to nail/screw. Make a mark when the plumb line is lined up. With a hammer, drive a large nail through roof to mark placement. If a straight tube placement isn't possible, tube can be fitted at angles to accommodate stairs/dormers, etc. Test-fit tubing to determine proper placement of roof hole. Tip: A plumb line can be made out of a piece of string and a washer.

Cut Hole in Ceiling

Use the hole template from kit and a pencil to draw a circle to appropriate size of skylight tube. Cut around circle using jigsaw (Image 1, 2). Tip: It's helpful to have someone underneath the circle to vacuum dust with shop vac and to catch drywall circle.

Cut Hole in Roof

Climb up on roof using ladder placed in a sturdy location. Using center point marked with the large nail used in step 1, use template and a piece of chalk to draw circle (Image 1). Cut along circle with a jigsaw (Image 2). (In the case of this installation a small hole was cut to accommodate a plug for jigsaw, but this is not necessary.) Tip: Wear shoes with good treads like hiking boots, work boots or trail running shoes when working on a roof.

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